Back in 2009, I was living in London for the summer and riding with some friends, as we were going through a tunnel, I saw flashbulbs and asked if we were paying tolls. My friend Simona responded, "Oh no, those are cameras, every time someone speeds they take a picture of your license plate and send you a ticket in the mail." It was the most mind-blowing thing I'd ever seen because, in the United States, where I lived, the police were still hiding behind bushes and billboards in people's driveways trying to get the perfect position to get you on their radar and give you a ticket. When I asked if the police hide and pull people over, she told me they're not allowed to do that here, that's why they have hidden cameras. I felt like that was a form of entrapment.

Man monitoring cctv cameras in modern control room
Izabela Zaremba
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In 2012 Facebook started using facial recognition technology to let you know which of your friends were in the photo and let them know if and ask if you wanted to tag them. That went over like a lead balloon, but sure enough, people allowed it, and Facebook still does it to this day. Now the talk is facial recognition software for solving crimes in American cities, and according to, Portland just became the 13th city in the United States to say heck no to. This is where you would probably say, "but won't it help us find the criminals even faster and close cases even sooner?"

The answer is yes, in theory anyway. The other effect is that it may put a falsely identify someone else, and anything else on those cameras could be seen as an invasion of privacy. What if someone hacked a camera and turned it into your window? What if the facial recognition software gets someone's face wrong or pings a relative closely resembles the suspect? The technology isn't perfected to the point of being 100% foolproof, but maybe the Portland City Council will review in ten years or so. As of the other night, they shot the proposed facial recognition software down unanimously. Councilman Justin Costa stated his reason for voting down the software usage was because there have been stories of wrongfully convicted bystanders and situations where they're identified by the software as well as abuses of power from the authorities in charge of said surveillance. This is a debate we're going to be having for a long time as the technology progresses, but for right now in Portland, no one's going to be checking your coffee cup from six blocks away via camera to see how many sugars you have.

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